(Google, Mountain View, CA, www.google.com) The largest Web search engine and one of the most influential companies in the tech world. In addition to general Web searching, Google offers a variety of specialized search tools and a huge amount of Web and desktop software that includes office apps, multimedia and social networking (see Google applications
). Each of the following Google products is used by more than a billion people: Android, YouTube, Chrome browser and Maps navigation.
In addition, Google is involved in advertising, publishing, software development, security, statistics, language translation and self-driving cars.
Android is the leading mobile platform worldwide, and highly secretive Google Labs is exploring the future of high tech. In 2015, Google formed Alphabet, a holding company that includes Google and all of its projects and acquisitions. See Alphabet
, Google X Lab
It Started With BackRub Search
In 1996, Stanford University students Larry Page and Sergey Brin developed their "BackRub" search engine and unique page ranking (explained below). With investments from Sun founder Andy Bechtolsheim and others, Google was founded in September 1998, and BackRub was launched as the Google search engine in 1999.
The Google name came from "googol," a number so large no one can fathom it (1 plus 100 zeros). Chosen to represent the immensity of the Web and the huge ambitions of the company, the choice of name was exceedingly appropriate. See googol
The Clean Screen
Google set itself apart from the other search sites with the first almost-empty home page. Instead of being laden with graphics that took forever to come in over analog modems, the Google page downloaded fast, and users sensed an immediate response before they started searching. With a single graphic, the home page is still ultra sparse (see Google Doodle
However, behind it all lies an incredibly sophisticated infrastructure. The company streamlines its servers to provide the most search engine power for the least amount of energy. Using its own self-healing software, the Google indexes are mirrored around the globe, and servers can fail without disruption.
The Popularity Approach
Called "PageRank," Google introduced the concept of popularity to rank pages in the search results. The pages with the most links pointing to them from other sites ("backlinks") are placed higher in the list. The websites' popularity is analyzed going back several levels, which is why a site ranks higher if 25 popular sites link to it rather than 100 non-popular sites. Today, Google analyzes Web pages not just for popularity, but for myriad attributes (see Google algorithm
Lots of Acquisitions
Starting with the Usenet discussion groups in 2001 and YouTube video in 2006, Google has acquired numerous companies that contributed value (see Usenet
). See Google bomb